To find the heart of Pittacum you would have to travel to the Bodega Terras Gauda in the Valle de O Rosal, in the Rías Baixes. 15 years since its foundation, personality, consistency and quality continue to be the three defining factors of the commitment of Pittacum. Pittacum, situated in El Bierzo, is home to forty hectares of old vineyards, distributed across over two hundred plots on the slopes of the mountain belts. It is these vineyards that are the source from which their wines are nurtured.
Viñedos y Bodegas Pittacum is part of the Terras Gauda group, which currently consists of the Bodegas Terras Gauda in the DO Rías Baixes, Viñedos y Bodegas Pittacum in the DO Bierzo, Quinta Sardonia in the DO Ribera del Duero, as well as the vegetable cannery A Rosaleira. The first winery of the group was Terras Gauda, which produced its first harvest in 1990. Nine years later the group acquired Bodegas Pittacum, with the aim of producing quality red wines from old vines and aged in oak. In 2010 the Quinta Sardonia winery in Sardon de Duero joined the group, producing high-end red wines made under the principles of biodynamics.
Since its inception, Terras Gauda has made it its prime objective to produce top quality wines, which reflect the terroir, have their own personality, made with noble varieties grown in the right conditions and vinified following the traditions of each region while using the most cutting edge and advanced technology.
For Pittacum, as well as the other wineries in the group, the quality of a great wine inevitably corresponds to the disposal of excellent raw materials. Thus, the lands use are all home to varying characteristics, with different soils, slopes, orientations and microclimates, differing qualities that allow the winery to grow grapes with very different characteristics, which are vinified separately and blended in different percentages depending on the winery sees as appropriate.
Because of this, as well as using their own 5 hectares of vineyards excellent with old vines, the winemakers at Pittacum also outsource for from the best vineyards across different zones of El Bierzo, which they follow throughout the whole year. The winery only uses vines that are over 50-110 years old, grown on soils poor in organic matter with adequate yields, where regular monitoring of each vineyard plot allows them to choose the right time for harvest. Frequent work is carried out in the vineyard, such as green pruning, desniete, defoliation and crop thinning, when necessary, allowing them to maintain a suitable microclimate on each plot, keeping it airy and well lit to encourage the best ripening of the grapes.
This respect for the environment and the fauna means that organic fertilizers are only used in adequate doses, with no chemical herbicides or synthetic pesticides used.
Once it is time to carry out the harvest on the different plots, a team carries out the first harvest. Only the healthy and ripe grapes are chosen, which are then later deposited into small 14kg boxes, thus avoiding breakages of bruising. The grapes are then taken to the winery to arrive in perfect condition. At the reception, the boxes are placed on a selection table where they are sorted one by one, where the few grapes that are seen to be unfit are discharged.
Once at the winery, the grapes are destemmed. The must then undergoes fermentation in 15,000 litre stainless steel tanks specially designed for the winery with characteristics to help extract the maximum potential of the grapes characteristics.
Each tanks is equipped with a temperature control system which helps control the fruit, while extraction of tannins and colour is aided by manual punching downs, pumping and a long maceration. Every day the wines are tasted to help monitor the polyphenolic compounds of the wine. Then, the skins are pressed softly with a vertical press at low intensity pressures. Malolactic fermentation then takes place in stainless steel tanks and the other in oak barrels.
After Malolactic fermentation has been carried out, with any filtration or clarification, the wine is decanted into oak barrels of different origins and levels of roasting to get the best result of each type of wine. The barrels are kept in a stone house cellar where they lie in controlled conditions in regards to light, temperature and humidity. The ageing period varies depending on the needs of each crop and the type of wine. After the aging, the wine is clarified with egg white and undergoes a light filtration, bottled and is put on the market.
Wines of Bodegas Pittacum
Although the wines by Bodegas Pittacum are predominantly produced with the Mencía grape variety, the winery also produces a Rosé wine blend of Mencía and Godello, as well as a single varietal Garnacha Tintorera.
Petit Pittacum Rosado. The newest addition by the winery, this rosé wine is a blend of two different grape varieties: Godello and Mencía. The grapes are cultivated on steep north facing slopes, on clayey soils, which give way to elegant Mencías with great acidity and great fruitiness. After the harvest has been carried out, the grapes are taken to the winery in 12kg boxes. The grapes are chosen cluster by cluster at a selection table and are then squeezed. The harvest then undergoes maceration for two hours at low temperatures, followed by the traditional saignée method. Fermentation is then carried out at 18ºC for three week with the aim of preserving all of the varietal aromas. The wine is then later clarified. El Petit Rosado is not a side thought of the winery, neither does it compliment their range of wines, even less so a by-product. This wine has been designed and well though through from start to finish and is produced like its reds, in the vineyard.
Petit Pittacum Tinto. Just like Pittacum, this wine is made exclusively with Mencía grapes taken from old vines, grown on small plots on slopes of the mountain belt that makes up the Bierzo wine region. The vineyards used for this wine are home to clay soils, fresh, grown on steep slopes facing east and north. After the harvest has been carried out, the grapes are taken to the winery in 12kg boxes. The grapes are chosen cluster by cluster at a selection table. Then destemming is carried out, followed by fermentation for 15 days at 25ºC, during which light pump overs and plunging occur to ensure for selective extraction and preserve the fruit. The wine is then aged for 3 months in the barrel. The result, a highly coloured red wine, elegant on the nose, with notes of red fruit. It is a juicy and fluid wine, with a strong Atlantic character.
Pittacum. This is perhaps the flagship wine of the winery, made exclusively with the Mencía grape variety. The vinification process is carried out in stainless steel tanks with light pump overs during fermentation, which is carried out for 15 days at 25ºC. It is bled and held in deposits for one months before being aged for eight months in (220 litre) French and American oak barrels. This wine has an intense colour and is complex on the nose with notes of black fruit, spices, cocoa. It is fluid and juicy with a long finish.
Val de la Loba. Another single variety Mencía wine, this time from century old vines, planted on loamy soils on slopes that are deep and well drained, moderately fertile which drives vigour in the vineyard and helps for a proper ripening of the grapes. Without being destemmed nor pressed the grapes are placed in small 20hl tanks where they ferment for 20 days at 28ºC, during which pump overs occur, with the idea of carrying out a selective extraction and preserving all of the fruit. The wine is then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. This is an intense wine, where the hints of fruit seduce the nose, it is balanced, dense, soft and fresh with a long finish.
Pittacum Aurea. This is a Vino de Pago, a single variety Mencía wine made with grape taken from the Areixola estate, a century old vineyard home to low bush vines, situated at a high altitude and worked and cultivated completely manually. The vinification process is carried out in stainless steel tanks with light pump overs during fermentation, followed by an ageing process for 14 months in (225) French oak barrels. This is an elegant wine, with red fruits, cherries, currents, with a mineral touch of earth and stones. It is well bodied and balanced, with a long finish that is frank and deep.
La Prohibición. Now this is a wine with its own style, where the Garnacha Tintorera grape is expressed with a strong Atlantic character, grown on century old vines on steep hillsides. The vines are grown on traditional low bush vines at high density that require manual intervention and cultivation. The winery is cultivated and worked without the use of chemical products or herbicides, allowing native flora to enjoy the soils, which are regulated by manual mowing. The vinification process is carried out in open small capacity tanks with light pump overs carried out during fermentation at controlled temperatures. Maceration lasts for 15 days, it is bled and is kept in deposits two weeks before it is aged in (600litre) capacity new French oak barrels. At the end of spring with the arrival of good weather and temperatures favours malolactic fermentation which is triggered in the barrel. Following this, the wine is aged for 24 months in the barrel, without racking, and is bottled without being filtered. This is a fragrant wine, where the nose is seduced by notes of cherry, violets and a touch of spices and herbs. It is a balanced wine, fresh and alive.